Kolkata: After Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dismissed reports about communal trouble at Dhulagarh, the West Bengal police has said there was a problem between two groups, 58 people have been arrested and forces have been deployed to control the situation. One of those arrested by the police is a man called Saddam, who locals say is a crude bomb-maker who was part of the mob that attacked several homes in Dhulagarh. Saddam has been named in the FIR in the case, police sources said.
Violence had peaked on December 14 in the area as a mob went on rampage, burning and looting homes while throwing country-made bombs. The police forces deployed were also targeted by the rioters and it took a huge force to control the rioters who were armed with sharp weapons and country made bombs. Locals allege, Saddam was seen with the rioting mob and was later missing.
Meanwhile, the centre is mounting pressure on Mamata Banerjee on the communal flare up in Dhulagarh. The minister of state for home invoked Malda's Kaliachak incident and said the union home ministry will act. In January, this year, a police station was attacked by a mob and burnt down in Kaliachak during a protest by around 1.5 lakh members of the Muslim community against comments about the Prophet Mohammad allegedly made by Kamlesh Tiwari, an activist of the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, who was arrested. The state government had said it was criminal incident and not communal in nature.
"Our ministry is looking after the affairs. Whatever happened at Malda was also scary. Our brothers in Bengal are not getting any justice. Our ministry will also not keep quiet. The Home Minister is thinking very seriously about it," Junior Home Minister Hansraj Ahir said.
Within hours of that, the West Bengal Police made its first official statement on the Dhulagarh violence. "The incident arose out of local issue. Problem was between two groups of people. Government has taken strong steps. 58 people arrested. All are FIR-named. Government has also provided relief in the area," the police said.
On Wednesday, the chief minister had dismissed questions of trouble on Dhulagarh. "What has happened in Dhulagarh? Nothing has happened. You should be ashamed of yourself," she told reporters who pushed her for a response on the issue.
On Thursday, the Trinamool Congress in a statement said, "All the old social media tricks and habits of the BJP-RSS combo. Amplify a local issue. Give it a communal twist. Spread hate even after arrests."
The BJP claims attackers were brought in from outside to create trouble in the presence of Trinamool legislator Gulshan Malik. While leading protests earlier this month, BJP lawmaker Roopa Ganguly had said, "He was present when this ruckus was taking place. Gulshanji was here when everything happened. And those people don't belong to this area. They have come from Metiabruz and other places. They have been brought here to do this."
Mr Malik refused to speak to NDTV saying Dhulagarh is outside his constituency and he has nothing to do with the issue. The police say the arrest of Saddam may help shed light on what and who instigated the violence.